Taste Testing the Great Depression?

Here at Place at the Table, we’re not strangers to trying foods from bygone eras. A few years ago, I traveled with my brother and nephew to Borroum’s Drug Store in Corinth, Mississippi in search of slug burgers – little sliders of ground beef patties extended with soymeal. The scarcity of beef during the Depression made slug burgers a tasty and inexpensive treat.

Our grandparents and great grandparents found other ways to stretch a meal back then with peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches. I learned about this forgotten sandwich from Garden and Gun magazine and promised Kim Gullett we’d try them.

For this taste test, I bought a bougie brioche bread, an organic peanut butter made with peanuts and salt by Kroger, and Duke’s Mayonnaise for the basic sandwich. For a second sandwich, I sliced a whole, chilled dill pickle to add texture and flavor.

With Kim on the camera, I made the sandwiches. I spread a thick, even layer of the peanut butter and mayonnaise on a few slices for two sandwiches. After closing each sandwich, I trimmed the crust from the edges and cut them into triangles. Kim demanded we make these sad depression sandwiches fancy as she arranged the tiny triangles on a plate.

If you haven’t gagged yet, bear with me. A peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich tastes like a tangy peanut butter sandwich. If you like a basic peanut butter sandwich, you’ll like this sandwich.

The added crunch and flavor of sliced pickles made the basic sandwich even better. Paul and Kim shamed me in my own kitchen for not buying sweeter bread and butter pickles for the tasting, but we all liked the salty dill pickle flavor with the fatty peanut butter and mayonnaise.

As we chewed our last bites, we imagined other ingredients to try with peanut butter and mayonnaise: hot pepper jelly, spam, bacon, and sriracha.

Our grandparents and great grandparents deserve some praise for finding flavor combinations that worked in a sandwich, but additional ingredients could make a simple peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich shine!

What ingredients would you add?

All photos by Kim Gullett.

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One thought on “Taste Testing the Great Depression?

  1. My mother, born in 1941, ate peanut butter/mayonnaise sandwiches her entire life. I refused to ever try them but I was also averse to adding anything else to the peanut butter until I found strawberry preserves. She used Jif of course and I don’t think she would have ever used a non-sweetened peanut butter. Thanks for sharing your experience, it brought back a lot of wonderful memories for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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